Tricolored Heron by Iena Cruz

Location: 432 West 163rd St., New York, NY 10032

Painted: 11/3/2015

(This mural has since been removed.)

About the Bird: A denizen of both salt and freshwater—frequenting coastal estuaries as well as marshes and lakes further inland—the Tricolored Heron cuts a striking figure as it wades belly-deep in search of fish. Its potential habitat on coasts surrounding the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of California is poised to expand with rising temperatures.  However, increased spring heat waves, a product of climate change, and expanding cities could counter any gains. 

About the Artist: Federico Massa (known in the global street-art world as Iena Cruz) is a university-trained fine artist from Milan. As a teen he forged a solid reputation as a renegade street-art painter. Then, at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, Massa developed a signature, layered style of spray-paint stenciling mixed with finely calibrated brush work on a range of textured surfaces. Since arriving in the United States, he has received the EB-1—the coveted U.S. Visa for Extraordinary Ability—and a number of gallery shows in New York City, Baltimore, and Miami, as well as commissions for wall murals in Mexico City, Ibiza, Manhattan, Barcelona, Milan, and Brooklyn, where he lives now.

“Climate change and the animals and plant life affected by climate change has been the focus of my large-scale works for the past few years,” says Massa. For this mural, he cast the Tricolored Heron in a melting glacier tableau inspired by 18th-century British naturalist Mark Catesby, whose detailed plates set a standard for documenting nature. “I created a vivid natural environment in layers of spray paint and stenciling that, while dream-like and fantastical, hide a sad message of extinction,” Massa says. “I am proud to have been included in this project and to have the opportunity to create a mural with these important birds whose future in the current ecosystem is uncertain. It is projects like this that can help record the species for the future and increase awareness that can hopefully hinder their extinction.”

Former Location: